Should I visit Cambodia’s capital again Le Royal will be my first choice for accommodations.

Overall Impression I arrived in Cambodia following many hours of travel, several changes of flight and layovers crumpled and tired. My flight landed late in the evening nearly two days after I departed from the United States. As soon as I exited customs and immigration I noticed the humid hot air. I immediately saw a uniformed driver from the Raffles Le Royal, my hotel for the next three nights, and released a breath I had not been aware I was holding. He drove me in air conditioned comfort to the quiet city hotel. Smiling staff welcomed me to the flower scented lobby where, after about 20 minutes checking in, I was escorted up one level to my first floor room.

Sunday morning at 8 a.m. an unexpected staff phone call woke me to a cheery sunny morning. In spite of the tiredness that lingered from the trip I stretched myself awake and headed out to the hotel’s exuberant buffet breakfast. By the end of the morning, after examining the grounds and my surroundings with care, I found that I was comfortable at the hotel and in my Personality Suite. But it was only after I had visited the city and its attractions that I realized how special the hotel was within Phnom Penh.

Le Royal provided a safe, reasonably quiet and clean environment within a renovated historic building, plenty of creature comforts, and friendly and helpful service including competent concierge staff that coordinated tourist activities for me. I was so comfortable, in fact, that going on a tour or exploring the city required an effort because what I was tempted to do was sit by the pool, explore the shops or have a snack at the lobby deli. After a day of sightseeing in the sweltering heat in at times gut wrenching sites of historic crimes, I was delighted to return to the serene and luxurious shelter of the hotel. Should I visit Cambodia’s capital again Le Royal will be my first choice for accommodations.

Children Yes

Class Of Accommodation Luxury Five Star hotel

Concierge Yon Pen

Connectivity There was complimentary broadband cable access via a wired connection in my room and WiFi in the lobby. Since I was unable to connect with the cable I had to sit in the lobby in order to go online and check emails.

General Manager Richard Schestak

Handicapped Access Not available

Length Of Stay Three nights

Location In the heart of the city and within a 20 minute drive from the airport.

Managed Fairmont Raffles Hotels International

Owned Kingdom Holding International (Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal)

Pets Allowed No

Size There were 170 rooms in three buildings within a two hectare property and 300 staff. The buildings were three or four stories tall.

Year Opened-Renovated The hotel designed by Ernest Hébrard, an architect of the time, was first established in 1927. In 1997 it became a Raffles property. The main building is the only structure from the original 55-room hotel that remains. In 2011, the State Rooms were slated for renovation.

Lobby And Common Areas The hotel was designed in a blend of Art Deco French Colonial and Khmer styles. The main building, where I stayed, had a historic ambiance accented by wood floors and wood staircases. The first thing I noticed in the common areas was the scent of jasmine flowers and the artwork (available for purchase) decorating the air conditioned lobby. Framed newspaper clippings and archival documents hung on the walls in one area, a testament of the city’s history and some of the prominent westerners in its past.

Bathroom From the entrance hallway to the right was the bathroom. Where the room was beige with dark wood the bathroom was white. The floor was tiled in white including the glass enclosed shower. A toilet with a wood seat occupied the corner. Diagonal from it was a claw foot tub. There were tiny ants by the sink. I appreciated the fresh smelling bath white sheets.

Room I stayed in the nostalgic 55 square meter Andre Malraux Personality Suite, room 210, named for a writer and author of La Voie Royal (The Royal Way) in which he wrote about Cambodia. From the lobby my room was a short elevator ride one floor up. The easiest route, I found, was via a wide dark wood creaky staircase right in front of my room which descended directly into the lobby, in front of the concierge desk.

My room faced the front of the hotel and my balcony was immediately above the entrance to the building. It had a brown and white checker patterned tiled balcony about 6 feet wide by 12 feet long with a round glass topped table and two wicker armchairs. French door and wood frames led onto the balcony. A printed note on one of the doors said “We recommend that you keep your windows and doors closed at all times to avoid any inconveniences from Mother Nature (monkeys and mosquitoes)”. From my room I could see the entrance to the property from the street. Starting in the early morning I could hear the sounds of traffic, especially horns blaring in the nearby street.

From the entrance door, a short hallway led into the room which opened up into a spacious area with high ceilings. Two rugs, one in the entrance hallway and another in the corner of the room, lay atop dark wood floors. The space where a second door would have been was taken up by a burgundy privacy curtain hanging from a rod. The room was furnished with a queen wood four poster bed framed by matching square glass topped night tables. Each had an identical lamp. The table on the right had a telephone and electronic controls for the lights and the fan. A striped bench stood at the foot of the bed and there was a large window on the right side of the room.

A luggage rack took up the corner across from the bed. Next to it a wood armoire housed a Philips television in the center. Beneath it were snacks and beverages as well as a small refrigerator stocked with mini bar selections. On either side of the armoire there was hanging space. The right side housed two burgundy bathrobes and slippers. The left side had laundry supplies and drawers on the bottom. Next to the armoire, facing the wall, there was an oval shaped wood desk with twin floor lamps framing it. On it there was a flower vase, a telephone, an ethernet cable, a bottle of Evian from the mini bar and two decorative items as well as hotel materials. That was where I set up my iPad.

A small round table and a wood armchair took up the right corner between the window and the balcony. When I arrived the table had a tray with two small apples and an ice bucket with a bottle of white wine. Black and white glass framed photos were the sole adornment on the walls. Beige curtains with burgundy accents adorned the French doors and single window while a slightly creaky ceiling fan kept the air moving in the room. On the bed there was a comfortable mattress, duvet and four feather pillows with embroidered pillow cases. A central adjustable air conditioner was set in the hallway and kept the temperature comfortable in the room. It was cooler and by far less humid indoors than outdoors.

Food And Restaurants The two main venues for meals were Cafe Monivong, well managed by Noemie Payumo, and Le Royal Restaurant, under the direction of Christoph Schlatter, a most gracious and welcoming host. Snacks and beverages could also be ordered from the Poolside Terrace, at the lobby Phnom Deli and Gift Shop and at the Elephant Bar. The Conservatory served afternoon tea. The cafe served a plentiful east meets west buffet breakfast between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. with Asian congee, fried rice, noodles, beans, sauteed vegetables, salad, fruit juices, sliced fruit, cold cuts, homemade yogurt, cheese, cereals, breads and pastries, and made to order eggs. Hot beverages were served at the tables by friendly and welcoming staff. There were foreign language newspapers for guest use in the sun filled dining room. Lunch was served between 12 noon and 2:30 p.m. For dinner I could dine at the cafe or at Restaurant Le Royal, the hotel’s gourmet restaurant which offered Royal Khmer Cuisine that was previously only available at the royal palace.

On a quiet Sunday night I ventured timidly into the restaurant to find out if it was possible to dine there. The young lady immediately welcomed me and soon I was seated at the back of the main dining room (there was a smaller dining area to the rear of the main dining room). The well managed restaurant offered traditional Khmer dishes and contemporary options. I sampled some of each and was surprised by the delightful results and refined dinner service. The ceiling painting of lotus and honeysuckle flowers was by Assax, painter by appointment to His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk. There was also a large painting of an Apsara dancer on the back wall.

Amenities There were two small bottles of house brand drinking water, a few fruit on a plate, two bathrobes, two pairs of slippers and a plentiful supply of bathroom toiletries. There were many Amrita Spa (house brand) sealed toiletries, made in Malaysia, for two including 100 milliliter plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, shower caps, sanitary bag, loofa, dental kit, brush, comb, bath salts, body lotion (with lavender, ylang ylang, palmarosa and olive leaf extract), vanity set, and sewing kit (in the closet). There was a fresh flower bouquet in the hallway and orchids in a vase on the desk. There were three phones, on the night table, on the desk, and in the bathroom. There was a vanity mirror in the bathroom.

Suite amenities included a butler, complimentary coffee or tea and two items pressed during my stay. During the week a complimentary copy of The Phnom Penh Post was delivered to my room. At turn down the staff brought a bottle of complimentary water and a printed card with an excerpt from a history book; a different one each night. One, for example, was from An Official Guide to Eastern Asia, Tokyo 1917.

Facilities The hotel had a gym, spa, two pools, a gourmet restaurant, a cafe, a deli and gift shop, a bar and several boutiques.

Pool There were two swimming pools, an adult pool, 25 meters by 12 meters in size and 1.5 meters deep, and a children’s pool, 20 meters by 12 meters and 0.9 meters deep. The swimming pools were divided by a pathway. On the right, from the main building, was the children’s pool. On the left was the adult pool. Changing rooms with two showers and one toilet (in the women’s bathroom) were at either end of the pool area. The women’s changing room was by the children’s pool and the men’s was by the adult pool. The lounge chairs were cushioned and comfortable, each one with a striped green and white towel which a pool attendant spread over the seats when a guest arrived. The day I visited the pools there were nine children in the pool area, most in the adult pool section including two in diapers both of which went in the water. Although I saw no umbrellas many of the lounge chairs were in the shade of two beautiful large trees, one at each end of the pool area like sentinels. When I arrived one of the young pool attendants, who kept the pool area free of leaves and looked after guests, found a shady corner for me to sit. A few minutes later he returned with a cold towel, a bottle of water and three bites of pineapple on a skewer.

Fitness Center And Spa The fitness area and spa shared 404 square meters of air conditioned space. An attendant greeted me when I entered and requested I fill in an attendance sheet for the spa or the fitness center before inviting me to proceed. The fitness area was equipped with Life machines (four treadmills, two elliptical machines, and two bicycles). There was also a shared (men and women) Jacuzzi between the lockers and the gym.

Ngou Sreykeo, a young lady from the countryside who had learned English by studying for two years with a non governmental organization and had learned massage techniques at Le Royal where she had worked for three years, gave me a 90-minute Relaxing Oil Massage. I was originally scheduled for a Khmer Massage but once we started talking and she found out I was tired from my long flights from the United States to Cambodia she suggested I have the oil massage instead. The massage was very good and she was helpful and friendly. I left relaxed and refreshed following the treatment and a 10 minute sauna session. In the ladies room, there were two rows of double (top and bottom) lockers, a steam room and a sauna as well as three showers and two toilets. The amenities in my locker were: towel, disposable underwear, plastic slippers, bathrobe, bottle of water and shower cap.

Conference Facilities The hotel had conference facilities for a maximum of 400 people in a theater style set up, and audiovisual equipment. Meeting space was available in Royal Ballroom (60 to 440 people), Salon 1 and Salon 2 (each with capacity between 30 to 150 people), Crystal Room (20 to 40 people), Empress Room (25 to 150 people), and Private Dining Room (10 to 15 people).

Other To the right of the entrance in front of the Elephant Bar there was a shopping arcade offering gallery and Khmer artifacts, oriental silks and carpets, fashion accessories, souvenirs, books and newspapers for purchase.

Because the tap water was not potable there were two bottles of water on the sink for oral hygiene. The hotel fogged the property every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. There was a note in my room notifying me that if I should see thick white smoke outside my window or balcony I should not be alarmed, that it was not hazardous to health and that the chemicals used had been approved by the American Pest Control Association.

The hotel had been listed in Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards Top 50 Hotels in Asia from 2006 to 2009 and Travel + Leisure Greatest 500 Hotels in The World between 2005 and 2009.

Cleanliness Excellent

Date Of Review June 2011

Reviewers Article and photographs by Elena del Valle

Service My room was serviced twice daily. Staff were service oriented, helpful and friendly. My butlers, including Chuon Sokvat, introduced themselves when I arrived and saw me off when I left. One of them, Sok Vat, left a kind farewell note for me on my departure. The concierge, on the couple of occasions when I requested assistance, was personable, knowledgeable and responded with alacrity. When I ordered a room service meal for lunch (the restaurants were closed until dinner) the food arrived within minutes and the empty tray was removed very quickly following my pick up call. Likewise when I asked to borrow an adaptor it arrived within five minutes. I requested additional water bottles when I arrived late at night. The following morning I found the water bottles in my mini bar.

Would You Stay There Again? Yes

Contact Information

  • Address:
    • 92 Rukhak Vithei Daun Penh
    • (off Monivong Boulevard)
    • Sangkat Wat Phnom
    • Phnom Penh
    • Kingdom of Cambodia
  • Phone:
    • +855 23 981 888
  • Fax:
    • +855 23 981 168
  • Website:
  • Email: